Fort Worth

If it seems like everybody around you is sick right now, you’re not imagining things

It’s that time of year to start talking about a flu shot, but when it comes to children who dislike shots, the CDC says that the nasal spray alternative is effective.
It’s that time of year to start talking about a flu shot, but when it comes to children who dislike shots, the CDC says that the nasal spray alternative is effective. TNS

If it seems that nearly everyone around you at home and work is suffering from a cough or cold or the flu, you’re not just imagining it.

MedStar crews have responded to more than twice the number of calls from people suffering from flu-like illnesses in Fort Worth than at this time last year.

In November, MedStar treated 123 people with primary or secondary flu-like illness, MedStar’s Matt Zavadsky said in a news release. That compares to 50 in November 2017.

The average age of the sick person last month was 47, with the youngest being 9 months and the oldest 90 years old, the release said.

Most of the patients — 58 percent — were female. The most prevalent number of reports were from the 76112 zip code in far east Fort Worth.

Signs of the flu include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, feeling weak or more tired than usual, headache, chills, body aches, vomiting and diarrhea. Most people can spread the flu from one day before showing symptoms to five to seven days after symptoms begin.

Between January and March, MedStar responded to more than 1,100 calls from people with flu-like symptoms, Zavadsky said.

“Hopefully, this trend will not continue, but we strongly encourage residents to seriously consider getting vaccinated for the flu,” Zavadsky said in the news release.

To reverse the trend, MedStar is offering to bring a mobile flu vaccination clinic to anyplace there’s a group of 10 or more who want to be vaccinated. Find more information here.

The news comes as the holiday season begins to kick into high gear, which is traditionally the start of the peak of the flu season. MedStar and Tarrant County Public Health offer these precautions heading into Christmas and New Year’s:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home from work, school and running errands when sick.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing. Throw the tissue in the trash after using it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread that way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu, especially when someone is ill.

Flu shots are widely available. Here’s a list of Tarrant County Public Health Centers where you can get one.

The 2017-2018 Influenza Season was the worst season since 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

An estimated 80,000 people died, including more than 180 children and there were 30,453 influenza-related hospitalizations.

Staff writer Nichole Manna contributed to this report.

This Fort Worth elementary school nurse emphasizes the importance of keeping those little hands clean during the 2017-18 school year and flu season. And, of course, "if you're sick, stay home."

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Breaking news editor Tom Uhler has been with the Star-Telegram for more than 30 years as a digital and print news editor. He’s a graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas and grew up in Dallas.